What can Singaporeans do about human trafficking?
Love Justice International // November 6, 2018, 5:10 pm
Of the estimated 20 to 45 million slaves in the world right now, more than half are in South Asia. Photo by Church of the King on Unsplash.
To young Ditya*, the eldest child of an impoverished family, the opportunity to pack her meagre belongings and seek work in a big city was the only way to feed her starving family.
To the predators in the city, who knew well the smell of desperation, Ditya was just another cold business transaction.
To Hitu*, who had seen many a girl naively walk into a human trafficking trap, it was imperative that she intercepted Ditya before it was too late.
Three sides, one story.
It is a story that Love Justice International is all too familiar with.
Orphanages and border crossings
Love Justice International, formerly Tiny Hands International, was started in 2004 with an orphanage in Nepal.
Their motivation: “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
It is estimated that there are between 20 to 45 million slaves in the world right now – more than any other time in history.
Over the next few years, they opened more orphanages in Nepal and Bangladesh.
In 2006, they started human trafficking interception work and to date, Love Justice has 38 different transit monitoring stations located where trafficking occurs – near important border crossings or transit hubs in Nepal, Bangladesh, India, Mongolia, Thailand, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Uganda, Kenya, Benin and South Africa.
Victims are offered shelter for protection, aftercare and education about the dangers of trafficking, until it is safe for them to return home.
To date, 70 traffickers have been prosecuted through the work of Love Justice. But the work continues.
It is estimated that there are between 20 to 45 million slaves in the world right now – more than any other time in history – with over half of the lives affected by trafficking in South Asia.
Human trafficking preys on the struggles and misfortunes of primarily women and children, enticing them with false promises of opportunity and wealth.
Ditya’s was one such story.
Ditya* is one such young woman overwhelmed with the many trials of living in poverty and the struggle to do her part to help provide for her family. She is like most girls – dreaming of marriage, a family, and the ability to live a life full of hope and purpose.
Ditya grew up in a small village in Bangladesh with her father, mother, and younger brothers. Although they did not have much, her father worked hard to provide for their family.
Their world was shattered, however, when they received word that her father had been killed while working abroad. Although her mother did everything she could to find work of her own, it just was not enough to meet the daily needs of their family.
As the oldest sibling, Ditya felt helpless witnessing her mother struggle to make enough money just to put food on the table for her children.
One day, having had enough of feeling trapped by her family’s circumstances, Ditya decided to try and find work abroad in India. She had heard many stories of people like her finding amazing jobs that paid more than she could ever dream of making in her village or anywhere close by.
Ditya shares: “I was determined to financially support my family and help my younger brothers build a brighter future for themselves. So, I packed a few essential articles of clothing in my handbag and left my house without informing my mother. I knew she would worry and not want me to go, and I didn’t want her to talk me out of trying to help my family survive.”
When she reached the border, Ditya was approached by a woman who began to ask her some questions about her travel plans. The woman said her name was Hitu* and explained that she worked for an organisation called Love Justice, and just wanted to make sure Ditya was safe.
“As I talked with her, I realised the risk I faced of becoming a victim of trafficking.”
At first, Ditya was afraid of getting into trouble, so she lied to Hitu saying she was going on a shopping trip to India for the day. However, because she was carrying a larger bag containing some of her personal clothing items, Hitu became suspicious.
Hitu continued to politely ask Ditya questions and reassured her that she would not be in any trouble if she told her the truth. Eventually Ditya felt safe enough to share her story and to reveal the true nature of her journey to India.
Ditya explained that even though she didn’t know how to secure a job there, she still needed to try because her family was so desperate.
After listening intently to her story, Hitu described the harsh reality of so many girls, just like Ditya, who are trafficked to India every day. She told her about the dangers of being ensnared by debt bondage or deceived by the promise of a false job, only to be sold into an Indian brothel.
Hitu explained to her that these girls are forced to engage in prostitution and very rarely ever have a chance to escape once they are trapped in the horrific prison of human trafficking. She then went on to advise Ditya on the safe ways to pursue both domestic and foreign employment.
Ditya said: “As I talked with her, I realised how dangerous it was to go to an unknown country and the risk I faced of becoming a victim of trafficking. I became convinced that I should look for a safer way to find a job. I recognised how unwise it was for me to not tell my family about my travel plans, and I knew they would be extremely worried about me.”
Hitu helped Ditya contact her family, and she was returned safely home.
The story continues
To date Love Justice has intercepted over 15,000 potential human trafficking victims and they continue their work of transit monitoring and interception to attack trafficking at the most strategic moment – while it is in the process of occurring and before women and children have been exploited or enslaved.
Not only do staff members help ensure potential trafficking victims are returned to safety and put known traffickers behind bars, they also share the life-saving grace of the Gospel with the victims and provide them with vital resources that will help them to navigate their own personal journey to know Christ as their Saviour.
Ditya’s story is not some fairytale. It is one that is happening at this very moment, somewhere in the world.
And Singaporeans have the opportunity to join in the fight for every life.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
*Names have been changed to protect the security and privacy of persons involved.
Love Justice International’s mission is to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ by fighting the world’s greatest injustices. We believe in a God of justice – if we truly love God, we must love justice (Micah 6:8).
Through our work, more than 15,000 individuals have been intercepted and prevented from being trafficked, over 200 traffickers have been arrested and over 70 traffickers have been convicted to date. But this is just the beginning.
Our vision is to operate 100 transit monitoring stations in 20 countries by 2023. We are well on our way, but we need your help.
If you feel moved to join in the fight to end this global injustice, you can help by:
- Prayer. We believe prayer plays a significant role in the eradication of injustice. We also believe in being willing to be a part of the answer to the prayers we’re praying. In other words, as we pray for the Church, we believe just as much in being the Church. As we pray for freedom and justice, we believe in being agents of freedom and justice in our world.
- Financial support. But even as we pray for freedom and justice, we believe in being agents of freedom and justice in our world. We boldly ask you to follow up your prayer with action and give. Every single intercept is made possible thanks to the faithful generosity of supporters like you.
- Building awareness. Share this message with your friends, family and community via social media and personally. Encourage them also to become prayerful partners.
To learn more about the work of Love Justice International, visit them here.